Profane

by Linda Werbner


Dear old cemetery
Did I profane you
when I danced
like a Deadhead as the acid’s just hitting
spinning and shimmying
Among the long-departed Brahmins of Marblehead and Salem
the city fathers and mothers and their stillborn children
the sober ministers with wooden teeth
all rotted away in their pine boxes
their names barely legible on the granite, the marble
If I did, well, I’m not sorry
You see, there’s a plague afoot
and I needed to dance
Brothers, sisters
Your lives were short and full of trouble
as they say in the blues
But I’m alive!
You see, there’s a plague afoot
and I needed to dance
Sure, I could get cut down just like you
Mary Hart, the minister’s wife,
who died in her 34th year
Or you, Benjamin Craddock, cord wainer,
from some virus, some micro-organism
that resembles a meatball covered in scarlet begonias
In fact, that was the name of the Grateful Dead tune
coming through my ear-buds
as I danced my profane and joyous dervish
in the empty graveyard tonight
as the sun set over Salem Harbor.



Linda Werbner is a Salem-based writer whose day job is providing telehealth counseling to this addled world. Her work has appeared in Quail Bell and Oddball Magazine. To decompress, she plays clawhammer banjo tunes about groundhogs and drinking whiskey before breakfast and makes quilts for friends and family. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

COVID Wing—Day 97

by Alan Perry


Lines on her face
trace the straps she curls
over her ears, tightening
the medicinal-smelling mask
around her nose, across her cheeks
under her chin. A face shield
tightly banded on her forehead
reflects what lies in front of her.
Hard to breathe, harder still
for her patients, their lines
in the hall grow longer each day.
More tubing to connect, intubations
to perform, rotation of the dead
with the near-dying–hallway
to room to hallway, and again.
Her voice is muffled as she holds
an iPad in front of the patient
encouraging his relatives to say
words she’s heard before.
No one can read her face
under the mask, the turning corners
of her mouth as breath fades
biting her lip when the patient
no longer inhales.
Droplets run past her nose
into the absorbent mask.
Her goggles fog up
from the heat, the heaviness
of what she must wear.



Alan Perry’s debut poetry chapbook, Clerk of the Dead , was published by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2020. His poems have appeared in Tahoma Literary Review, Heron Tree, Sleet Magazine , Gyroscope Review, Zingara Poetry Review and elsewhere, and in several anthologies. He is a Senior Poetry Editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine , and was nominated for Best of the Net. Alan holds a BA in English from the University of Minnesota, and he and his wife divide their time between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Tucson, Arizona, USA. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

I like your mask

by Carrie Daniels

What mask to wear tonight
Is my current dilemma
For I have a date tonight,
during a pandemic.
I met him online, in January,
When the virus was still continents away,
To our knowledge anyway.

Regretting not meeting earlier, we made a plan:
To meet at a park, staying six feet away.
We want to be closer but also fear each other.
We have video chatted; he’s seen my lockdown hair.

Does a solid-colored mask make me look boring?
Maybe this one with stars or this one with cats,
Is this striped one unflattering?

At the park he walks toward me,
Tall with broad shoulders; his eyes so blue.
“I like your mask,” he says with a smile
(or so I imagine)”
And I like yours too,” I said 
From six feet away.



Carrie Daniels lives in Oklahoma where she works in the public health field. She started writing poetry for her blog on a semi-regular basis two years ago and has recently taken up writing lyrics. Her dream is to write a book and collaborate with someone to turn her lyrics into a song. Besides writing, she enjoys attending church (mainly virtually now), hanging out with her pets, and reminiscing about the time when it was easy to find bleach wipes and Lysol. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

Prince Henry Hospital and Nursing Museum -virtual tour

by Marjorie Maddox


In Little Bay, Australia: the injured, the isolated,
the highly infectious, and now, you, Dear Reader,

unrolling the bandages, passing the scalpel,
wiping the brows, stacking the bedpans,

pushing the wooden wheelchair down the long hall
toward the next century’s death and disease,

which is today, Memorial Weekend, 2020,
the museum’s smiling mannequins unable to say

which way to turn to escape the vast array
of scales, the showcased skeletons, the inevitable

interaction with grief, and what the typed captions
will read after next decade’s renovations make room

for this year’s tallies of loss and sorrow. Go now
out the unlocked side door and onto the wide front porch.

The ocean is still there: crashing or cleansing? Listen.
Decide whether or not to breathe.



Marjorie Maddox is the winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University. She has published 11 collections of poetry, including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist)Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award); the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); and four children’s and YA books, including Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Readiing Poems with Insider Exercises and A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry, Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems, and I’m Feeling Blue, Too! Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

writing through Psalm 91 as a way to meditate on it

[March 22, 2020]

by Lee Ann Brown


1 “She who Dwells in the Secret Place of the Most High Shall Abide Under the Shadow of the Almighty” is my favorite album by Sinead O’Connor which I play in my head instead of surfing the very spotty internet to the divine stars on the porch. The secret room is small but its ceiling is as large as that bright vault. Thelonious Monk’s cover of the hymn “Abide with Me” is the first cut on his album, Monk’s Music and is a triple blessing calling to my mind the brass bands of the Moravian Love Feasts of my youth, plus the hymn composer’s name is also Monk and even though there are no words on Theloniuous’ setting, I hear “Abide with Me, fast falls the Even Tide” every time I listen to it.
2 I will say of the Mother, she is my lap refuge and my blanket fort: my Goddess! under her arm will I truss up my fear. She improves upon an age-old piecrust recipe by dissolving the salt into the vinegar, ice water and egg yolk mixture instead of just cutting it all in with the flour.
3 Surely she will deliver both you and me from the trap of the pheasant hunter, and from this nauseating, viral crown.
4 She will cover us all with all her feathers, and under her hen-wing will we incubate: her foreknowledge will be your mask and your glove.
5 You will not have night terrors; nor be afraid of being shot in the days of the Hunger Games;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walks down the street at  night; nor for the downfall that eats the Consciousness of Noon.
7 A thousand fomites will be on the counter, and ten thousand in your hand; but the virus shall not come near you.
8 With your own eyes you will see the ways things are going down.
9 Because you have put your trust in the spirit in her boss your home, 
10 No bad flowers will poison you, neither shall any plague come over to your place.
11 For they shall give her angels of responsibility to watch over you to show you the way to go.
12 She will hold you up in her nightly arms and not let you trip up or even stub your toe. 
13 Even if you stepped on a lion and a snake, you will do them more harm than they do you, but why would you even need to step on them in the first place? 
14 Because they have set their love down upon me, I will send in my deliverables: I will put them up high, over my heart’s lintel, because they do remember my name.
15 They shall call me by my name, and I will then answer: I will stay with them in trouble; I will labor and deliver all the babies.
16 With long life will I salsify them, and show them how generous and loving I too can be!



Lee Ann Brown is the poet-singer-author of five poetry books, several collaborative books and edited tribute collections, and is the Founding Editrix of Tender Buttons Press. She is currently based in the mountains of North Carolina. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

Grief Is Love Made Homeless

by Howie Good


I was born shivering in a small Midwestern city named by French explorers for a now-extinct tribe. As I grew older, I was given platitudes to speak and warned not to mix up the words or mistake their meaning. Occasionally, the sky would brighten, but never for very long, and then people would cluster on street corners and in churches and under trees and highway bridges. Some would be crying, having just learned that being guilty was a part of life. This would happen again and again. It might have been more endurable if the dark wasn’t always so dark.



Howie Good is the author of The Death Row Shuffle, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

The Daily Briefing


by Claire Loader


She wore red like it made a difference, 
but it was hard to detract 
from that face, no matter what the colour.  

Smug, with her hair so perfectly in place, 
it was obviously not by her own hand —
bleary-eyed, small people hanging 

from her dressing gown—that she had hacked 
at her fringe like the rest of us.  We 
had descended into madness,

the newscaster a daily reminder of how far 
we had fallen, her smiley head 
barely visible through the forest of bottles, 

the chip packets, the ‘lava mountain’ 
the kids had fashioned from it.  
Hair had never been so long, although what was growing

on my head was not moving half as fast as the nether 
regions of this new jungle 
that entwined us.  We barely spoke anymore, 

a splattering of grunts, the occasional sharp 
look enough to communicate our disquiet.  
When a caterpillar cocoons, she goes in 
knowingly, goes in with a plan.  
She alone will come out of this with wings.



Claire Loader is a New Zealand born writer now living in County Galway, Ireland.  Her work has appeared in various publications, including Crannóg, The Cormorant and The Cabinet of Heed. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast


by Karen Green


Chocolate cake for breakfast
I’ll let you think
it’s a treat
a celebration we continue

a birthday

We did all the usual things
strung bunting
wrapped gifts
sang songs

accepted well wishes over the phone
video
across the driveway

You stay in the car
we’ll stand on the path

The cat enjoys the boxes
from all of the deliveries we receive now

Their contents represent a sliding scale
of necessity
needs
this hierarchy
what day is it?

Books puzzles sweatpants
cherry red skillets

The cat jumps from one box to another
chooses the smallest
falls asleep

We are jealous of the creature
who wants walls touching her
on all four sides

My husband still has a job today
so the boxes keep coming

The lilacs are blooming outside the window
where I’ve placed my desk
to pantomime work
the words won’t place themselves in straight
lines neat order

but the flowers are blooming
and the cardinals eat all the seed I put out
chirping loudly when the bounty runs low
or the squirrels move in to pillage the remains

And we eat chocolate cake for breakfast to
prolong a celebration to
spoil ourselves as the boxes gets smaller to

leave it one more day
before I admit the cupboards are nearly bare

Mother Hubbard
would not have been afraid to
go
go
to the store
go



Karen Green is a freelance writer and mother of two in Chatham, Ontario. Her creative and editorial work has appeared in Room Magazine, CNF, The Rumpus (upcoming), 50 Haikus, and many other venues. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.